Letter: Why would church rush land use process?
To the Editor:
In a recent Facebook post, the meeting minutes from the May 28 St. Stephen’s Vestry Meeting were shared and stated that the church is looking into selling their South Hall building. The minutes read: “…the town charter was amended last November to establish a new Inland Wetlands Board effective 11/8/2019 to remove wetland decisions making from P&Z. It was the group’s consensus to make the application to P&Z by the end of July to navigate existing and known processes for approval ... committee’s recommendation to immediately initiate the application process to meet the July P&Z deadline.”
Last November, voters overwhelmingly supported the creation of a new, independent Inland Wetlands Board (IWB), as recommended by the Charter Revision Commission and state environmental authorities. The fact that the church will rush their application to meet a July deadline so that it will be reviewed by the current combined PZC/IWB, rather than the new IWB, is troubling.
Why the rush? One conclusion could be that the current board will review wetlands issues less stringently than the new one will. Or, perhaps the current PZC lacks the expertise to rigorously evaluate the wetlands and apply the appropriate regulations, explaining why residents voted to separate the two boards.
The minutes also state that the church committee and their attorney, Bob Jewell, met with town and P&Z officials on May 1 for an informal discussion. Bob Jewell commented on the Facebook post writing, “There were no elected officials at any meetings discussing this matter.” Which is true? If they weren’t “officials” at the meeting, who were the PZ staff members in attendance?
Allow the new IWB to investigate the three wetland areas of this property thoroughly. Scomeone is advising the church group to push it through faster. Who and why?
Circle Drive, June 13